Sunday, April 30, 2006

Magical Morning

This morning I woke up to the most glorious of days. After 4 days of rain and cloud, it snowed last night and I was up and out at 8 on my favourite walk through the forests. Deep blue skies, sun shining, and mountains covered in snow. Crisp and clean and amazing. " I lift my eyes to the hills" springs to the mind. Come with me and you will see why I love it so......
This is De Hanen with the sun rising behing it.

I walked up the hill to the End of the World, past the rafting pool which was just rubble the last time I saw it after the floods. The road was icy, so it was slow going.

Here we are in the forest. I actually took 32 photos in the forest, but you can see how beautiful if is from these. The birds were singing, and there was no-one about. The snow was starting to fall from the trees in the sun. The only sounds were from the birds, the waterfalls among the trees, and the rustling of the snow dropping.

There cannot be many places quite as peaceful and glorious as this.

And look at the valley below. Wow! is inadequate. It is real, and so utterly beautiful, words can't describe how much I love it. I am going out for another walk this afternoon. I wish you could all be here to see it too.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


Well, here I am in Engelberg in central Switzerland. You can go to the link I have for Engelberg and see the livecam images. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I am sitting in my sister's study and looking out the window, all I can see are mountains. You can stand in the garden and turn in a circle, and there are the most stunning alps all around you. The village is 1000ft above sea level, and it is an all year round ski resort. There is a glacier up at the top of Mt Titlis, and there is so much to see and do and it is just wonderful. Down the mountain, there is Luzern.

I flew in yesterday for a surprise visit. I need the mountains and the forests and the peace I find here. It doesn't matter what time of year you come. You will never be disappointed. My arrival was greeted with shrieks of delight, (even though Marge did walk past me twice without registering I was there!) I came up from Luzern on the little red train, which is a magical way to arrive. Halfway up the mountain it shifts onto cogs as it gets so steep. Repairs are still in progress after the disastrous floods of last summer. The ones that chose to go directly through my sister' house. The garden is a mess, and I will get stuck in over the week I am here. Quite possibly in more ways than one! (This keyboard is Swiss, and the letters are all in strange places.) I will be out on my walks soon, and we are off to dinner in my brother-in-law's restaurant, the Boden, tonight. Photos coming soon.

This is the most healing place I know. You have to come too.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


It is late and I should be crawling into bed for some much needed sleep, but I have been watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I am completely hooked I confess. The new season has started and I will be a zombie till it is over. And then there are the re-runs of course. The feel good factor is great, and I think it must be such a wonderful job to have...... to give people who really deserve it, the home of their dreams. Making people happy (or happier rather, as they are all super, positive, hope-filled people) is a lovely concept.

Then there is CSI in all its forms. And Medical Investigations. And Bones. They are all American programmes, but I love them all.

I tried to do a hyperlink thingy. I can't. I don't know what to do. It is driving me crackers. And I hate having to ask my child to show me what to do and then he moves so fast I can't see a thing. At least I knew what a hyperlink was. That is something. I remember the first calculators, that were the size of a modern laptop. And you had to plug them in to the mains. I remember going on a school trip to see a computer. It took up the entire basement of a massive building (the Old Mutual in Cape Town). I remember that in South Africa we only got TV in 1972 or 3. It was banned before. I did Matric maths using a log book and slide rule. I remember thinking life was complete with the advent of the fax machine. That was 1990. The home fax. Then came email, the internet, broadband, mobile phones. Cordless telephones and kettles. Microwaves. I sound as though I am a dinosaur. When I had my first son, my gynae didn't trust new fangled ultrasounds and epidurals. Car seats for kids and safety belts did not exist. Where was I???? Hyperlinks. Sigh. I did learn how to add photos to this blog. So I will learn how to do the hyperlinks. One day.

Monday, April 24, 2006


Dad would have been 83 today. This is exactly how I remember him. Playing golf. He was an amazing athlete in his day and one of the elite runners trying to break the 4 minute mile. He died in 2000 from Diffuse Lewey Body Disease, a very rapid form of dementia. But THIS is who he really was. I just worked out that he was not much older than I am now when this photo was taken. That is truly depressing. I am back to the "old" theme again. He would have grinned and said.... well, you are rising 60, you know. He had a warped sense of humour!

Andrew and Ann in Switzerland

The Restauant Boden, in Engelberg. Clearly the best place to eat in town!

Andrew and Ann in the snow. This is meant to be spring.

They had a great 2 weeks in Switzerland and managed to visit Interlaken and Geneva too. The snow was an unexpected bonus.

Another week is here, and the London Marathon is over for another year, and the 2 teams playing for the FA Cup have been decided. Roger Federer lost the Monte Carlo Masters final to Raphael Nadal (gl00m and despondancy here) and while the weather is milder, it has drizzled and there has been no sign of the sun anywhere. Spring? I need sunshine! Diana has finished her holiday club and it has been a great success, and she is now having a few days off to rest and have some adventures. I have nothing much exciting to report. I will be back.

Friday, April 21, 2006

The Queen is 80 today

And she is the same age as Mum. I can guarantee the Queen will not be doing what my mother did on her 80th birthday. She went for a ride on my brother-in-law's trike. Round the village clad in leathers, helmet etc. That was the easy part. Getting on to and off the huge machine was bad enough for me, and I am 51, but she was on there like a shot. What excitement. Mum and Dad were at the Queen's 21st birthday ball in Cape Town. They were on the stand outside Westminster Abbey for the coronation. They have been to Buckingham Palace to garden parties. The Queen's hair is white. Mother's is not. Mine quite possibly will be by the time I am 52, and the thought of what she may do for the next big birthday is guaranteed to speed up the process.

Celebration of a little life

Today was Hannah's memorial service. It was held in a chapel on the mountain in Engelberg. She was Marge and Peter's great neice, and part of our family. Just look at that little face. I think of my kids and can't believe how incredibly lucky I have been.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Hodges family visit

Today Cathy, Tony and Graham came to lunch. They have been on their Easter tour of the country catching up with old friends. The last time I saw Harry, he was about 3 and now he is 14. We hauled out the photo albums, and had a hilarious time rehashing old memories. (I seem to be using the word "old" rather a lot at the moment!) It was great to see them all. Cathy made the trip to Heathrow last October to say goodbye to her goddaughter, Diana, when she left for New Zealand. She has been a super godmother. It was lovely to see them all. New resolutions have been made, and this time I WILL keep them. Devon is really not that far away after all. It really is amazing how easy it is to be with old friends. No matter what the gap is between seeing each other, the conversation never lags at all. I am so lucky to have so many special people who have played a part in my life.


Did I mention that I make quilts? Quilting is what I love doing best. Here are a few I have made for you to see.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

London's streets are hard on the feet

Ok. I have just spent half an hour looking for a photo of a red bus, or the queen or something to represent London on the internet. Then there are all the agreement things and it all got too confusing, so I have nothing to brighten up the post. I am quite sure my kids will tell me it is all very simple. And anyway that would make my day in London seem touristy and fun. It was not.

I had some appointments to take things to Christies and Bonham's, and bookshops for valuations, or advice, and ended up walking from Picadilly to South Kensington, dragging a wheelie bag behind me with all the things wrapped in bubble wrap in it. I looked like a bag lady, and you have no idea how heavy it was, and given the nature of the contents, one could not crash over every pavement edge. And do you know how many stairs there are in the underground?? I slunk past Harrods, feeling like Cinderella before the transformation, and found a coffee shop down a side street. Balancing a tray with a coffee on it while dragging the wretched bag at the same time was also a feat of considerable skill. Everyone in London appears to be 24 and to walk at the speed of light. And to be dressed in designer gear. County mouse defintitely does not belong in town. I cannot believe I am saying this, but Wellingborough looked good to me, when the train deposited me back in familiar territory. I clearly need to get out more, and get a life.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

The daffodils are late this year and there are no tulips out yet, but the signs of new growth and emerging life are everywhere to be seen. It is Easter, and it is really special to celebrate it here in the northern hemisphere, where nature reflects the essence of Easter in the rebirth of life. Along with the rest of the country, I spent a glorious day yesterday in the garden. In my case, hacking back everything with gay abandon. Give me loppers and I am a woman with a mission. Hah! It is now manicured. Not quite what I intended, but it will do. The fact that the paving slabs are lethal with at least 3 years of accumulated slime when it rains is irrelevant. Skating round adds to one's options for entertainment. The power washer can sort that, and it will be safe to wander round and watch the shoots popping out of the soil. Then the annual war with slugs and snails can begin. I never did much gardening in South Africa, but here it seems to be something that is infectious, and I have the bug.
Have a great Easter. The Easter Bunny still has to go and hide the eggs.......................!

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This morning, a little girl died in Switzerland, in her Daddy's arms, with her big sister who is just 4, beside her. Her name was Hannah, and she had a beautiful smile, and she had a spirit stronger than you can imagine. She was just 21 months old, and almost from the start of her life, everyone knew she would not live long. She surprised everyone, and she learnt to talk and to walk, trailing her oxygen tubes behind her. She just wasn't ready to go until this morning. People who had never met her or her family knew of her, and prayed for them all. She had a father who has been everything a father should be or possibly could have been. And more. She could not have been more loved or cared for more tenderly. This is a salute to an absolutely remarkable man. Hannah will be remembered. She is at peace now, and home, safe in another Father's arms.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Spring Harvest

David and friends on the beach

Well, I have just got back from my first trip to Spring Harvest in Skegness. 7000 people at Butlins, and 1800 of them students. It was an uplifting and challenging time, and yet it is amazing how easy it is to find time and space to be alone in a crowd as well. I loved my walks on the beach even though Skegness is not known for its tropical climate. Bracing (that is such a British word!) is more like it. A large group from our village and Wellingborough Christian Youth Centre went together, and we all met for coffee and chats though went our separate ways to different talks and seminars. Some were outstanding and some not that great, but it was all fascinating, and the music led by Kristyn Getty and her husband Keith was stunning. The noise the Big Top produced was awesome. David had a great time, and it was good to see him with all his friends. There were days when I did not see him at all because he was happy and busy. I stayed with the Elvin family and we enjoyed doing kiddie things too with their 3 little ones. The week flew by, and it is back to reality now............ there is no food in the house!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

I am here

Have you ever swum too far and bobbed up and down in the water going under now and then? Have you ever looked towards the shore and thought, it is just too far away, and I will never get back? This has been a year of more downs than ups so far, and even though I banished all thoughts of new year resolutions, the one I did make, to find reason to smile and laugh no matter what the year tossed at me, has been somewhat difficult to keep. I seem to have been caught in a riptide going out to sea.

The Commonwealth Games have come and gone, a whole school term has done the same, and I am 4 months older since last I posted a blog. I seem to have taken up permanent residence in doctors waiting rooms, or hospitals. Geoff collapsed in the middle of Feb at work, and 2 weeks later had his aortic valve replaced in Oxford. He will be off work till the end of May. Mum was supposed to be in Switzerland helping Marge and Peter with their home and dogs once the new restaurant opened, and they needed my help too, but I simply could not get there. Mum had health issues which took ages to resolve and now I am finally having to admit I am not superhuman after all. The spirit may be willing, but the body is shutting down.

David turns 17 tomorrow, and heaven help us all, will be learning to drive. I have no idea how time has flown by so fast. Today I had a visit from my goddaughter, Paula, who I last saw when she was about 4. She is a stunning young woman, 26 now and a physiotherapist from New Zealand, and all of a sudden, I feel old! All around me are friends who are battling with medical dilemmas, illness, parents ailing, and reversal of roles. I spent a week helping to look after a friend's dad who has Parkinsons and Alzheimers, and I remember so well, how hard it was to look after my Dad, and all the guilt that comes with making decisions we would rather avoid. We all have ideals of perfection you know, and precious little chance of ever reaching them. I am certainly my own harshest critic, and with that comes the guilt and the sense of failure and futility. Responsibility, unrelenting, can have devastating effects on us.

BUT........................................ It is now April. A new month, and the optimist in me is anticipating spring and sunny days ahead, an easing of the stress, and healing. I am going to New Zealand in September, and I will get to Switzerland to help in the summer. Andrew, Ann and Mum went today and are sitting in Engelberg as I speak. I will get there soon. And the smile is back, even though at times it is a little wobbly.